Best Fishing Reels of 2019: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

By Sonnox | Fishing Reel Reviews

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Fishing is a very popular sport, both recreationally and competitively. There aren’t too many gear items you need to start fishing, but the very first decision many anglers must face is which reel is the perfect one for them.

Even within that question, there are choices — should you go for a spinning reel or a baitcaster? This question can be answered only by knowing what you are looking for when it comes to the performance of the reels.

In this guide, we are going to break down some of the best fishing reels of 2019 while also giving you the tools to decide which one of these reels will suit your needs. We will talk about what you should look for when you are making this decision as well as some of the most commonly asked questions. Now that the hook has been baited let’s cast that line and see what we can catch.

Comparison Chart

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels, 9 +1 BB Light Weight, Ultra Smooth Powerful, Size 500 is Perfect for Ultralight/Ice Fishing.

Piscifun ICX 5 Ice Fishing Reel – 2019 New 5.2:1 Spinning Fishing Reel – 5+1 Sealed Ball Bearings- Ultra Smooth Powerful Light Weight Ice Reels

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel

Shimano SEDONA FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel, 1000FI

Best Fishing Reel Reviews

Penn Battle II

The Penn Battle II with its smooth drag and durable construction was an easy addition to our list of the best fishing reels.

Product Highlights

This saltwater spinning reel is one that will set the angler up for success. Made to be durable with a construction comprising of a high-grade metal, rotor and side plates. The reel has so much more to offer, things like:

  • Ball bearings made of stainless-steel (x5)
  • Drag system that optimizes drag (HT-100 carbon fiber Versa Drag)
  • Pullback removed by the inclusion of an anti-reverse system
  • Greased for extended life
  • Compatible with braided line
  • Capacity rings for the line to make sure you know how much line is left for use.
  • Bail made of heavy-duty high-grade aluminum
  • Paint that offers protection against saltwater

What's to like about the Penn Battle II

There are plenty of great things to say about this reel. The smooth drag ensures a more precise and efficient cast and that could mean the difference between a cooler full of bass and having to run through that drive-thru on the way home. As for  durability, with any piece of gear, the longer you get to use it the more of a good investment it turns out to be. So, the Penn Battle II is a reel worth looking into.

What's not to like about the Penn Battle II

With that durability however you are stuck with a reel that is heavier than some might like. Coupled with that durability factor though is the fact that this reel is not sealed and therefore you may want to keep it out of direct contact with saltwater. Though these are two important negatives they are not enough to detract from all the great benefits and features the Penn Battle II afford the angler.


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    Smooth drag
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    Durable construction


  • Weight
  • Not sealed

KastKing Summer/Centron

The KastKing Summer/Centron is a reel that brings so much to the game that it is hard to narrow down just one thing that makes it stand out.

Product Highlights

Quality is the name of the game with this product. The team KastKing has given the angling world another superb reel at a price that will not tank your savings. Along with the affordable price tag, this reel will enhance your fishing game with these great features:

  • High-quality ball bearings (x10)
  • Designed to be compact and lightweight
  • Frame constructed of graphite with a high tensile strength
  • Frame also corrosion resistant
  • Enhanced drag with a precision drags system
  • Gear system that uses durable pinion gears
  • Ambidextrous handle design
  • Anti-reverse bearing built-in
  • Able to hold increased amounts of line.

What's to like about the KastKing Summer/Centron

One of the best qualities that this reel has is the interchangeable handle. This ambidextrous design gives the angler some customization ability and that could be the thing that puts this reel in a class all by itself, along with the extended casting range thanks to the power launch lip. This budget-friendly, durable reel needs to be on every fisherman's list of must-haves. Even with that let’s look at the one drawback this reel has.

What's not to like about the KastKing Summer/Centron

There is not much to not love about the KastKing Summer/Centron. In fact, the only downside of this reel is the fact that the size selection tends to be on the smaller side. In fact, if you are looking to deal with a heavier line or larger fish you may want to look at one of the other entries on this list. If you are not looking to catch your white whale, then this small thing should not deter you from looking at this model from KastKing as a viable option.


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    Handle that is interchangeable (left/right)
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    Power launch for increased casting distance


  • Size varieties are all in the smaller range

Piscifun ICX

The high-quality ball bearing system and the infinite anti-reverse makes for a smooth-casting precision piece of fishing gear. For all the performance you would imagine the price would match and you would be wrong.

Product Highlights

If you are looking for a reel specific for your ice fishing needs, then this reel may be the right one for you. Though specifically designed to be an ice fishing reel the Piscifun ICX could be used as a regular eel especially if the angler is looking for a reel that has all of this to offer:

  • Graphite used to construct the body and rotor for enhanced durability
  • Handle that is quick folding for ease of transport
  • Ball bearings that are sealed (x6)
  • Drive gear that is made of a zinc alloy
  • Enhanced performance from the anti-reverse mechanism
  • Water resistant and watertight spool constructed of high-grade aluminum
  • Great line management
  • Spool that is larger than normal

What's to like about the Piscifun ICX

There are many great things that we could say about the Piscifun ICX reel. The quick folding handles among the top of the list, but the one thing that stands out above all else is the performance for this reel. In fact, for the level of performance you get from this reel the price tag seems crazy. But even with the highest functioning piece of kit, there is always a few things that cause you to pause.

What's not to like about the Piscifun ICX

This reel is not one-size-fits-all and what we mean by that it will great for use with any of your freshwater needs. If, however, you are a saltwater fisherman then step away from this reel as it was not designed to take the harsh saltwater. The only other thing is that although you get great performance this is not a reel that will last your lifetime, which is why having such a low-price tag is a good thing. Both drawbacks are minor, so unless you are a die-hard saltwater angler there should be no reason to take this off your list.


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  • Not good for saltwater fishing
  • Durability

Abu Garcia BMax

One of the things you should always think about when trying to decide which reel you need is the drag system, and the Abu Garcia BMax has one of the best on the market.

Product Highlights

The Abu Garcia BMax is great for the new fishermen and women out there because it is so budget friendly. Though many will discount a piece of gear because of the price tag thinking that if it is the low cost it is not worth your time. That would not be the case with this reel; a baitcasting reel that offers a high level of performance, the BMax comes with all many advantages created by all these features:

  • Precision brake system (MagTrax) to help with a smoother cast
  • Line retrieval is smooth thanks to the four ball bearings
  • Anti-reverse roller bearing as well
  • Gear ration that leads to enhanced retrieval speed
  • Maximum drag of 18 pounds
  • Graphite frame constructed in one solid unit
  • Ergonomic handle design

What's to like about the Abu Garcia BMax

The line retrieval and the performance during the whole drag range are spectacular which means a more precision cast and an easier fight with the fish when you hook them. The struggle is real, but it will be a lot less real with this reel. If you couple that with the Magtrax brake system, that means for a beginner reel this reel is one of the best fishing reels. Even with that being said, there is one major drawback.

What's not to like about the Abu Garcia BMax

Some anglers will think this drawback is a deal breaker, but because this reel is so gentle on that pocketbook it is a drawback that we think you could easily overlook. The durability and long life of this reel have been called into question. Though this reel may not last long enough for you to pass it down to your kids, it is a high performing piece of equipment so make sure you think hard before you push this into the no category.


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    Line retrieval is smooth
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    Brake system built in


  • Durability

Shimano Sedona F1

This is a spinning freshwater reel that rivals any of its competition, the Shimano Sedona F1 makes it on the list of the best fishing reels of 2019 for a lot of reasons.

Product Highlights

Another entry on the list which is budget- friendly and offers the angler a high-performance tool is the Shimano Sedona F1. This reel gives the fishing enthusiast a wide range of versatility being good for freshwater fishing as well as the heavier fish of an offshore excursion. Some of these reels’ features are:

  • Patented gear design that is cold forged
  • Gears increase and enhance the reels overall performance and versatility
  • Spools that are double anodized and machine cut for a larger line capacity
  • Compact design
  • Management system for the lines propulsion that increases casting range

What's to like about the Shimano Sedona F1

The list of features above lays it all out for you, but two of the biggest reasons we chose this for the list are its waterproof digital structure and the casting performance. The fact is that as you cast, that smooth cast created from a unique spool design, you are recharging your braking system which means a more efficient and precision cast.

What's not to like about the Shimano Sedona F1

The Shimano Sedona F1 is a great reel but even the best piece of equipment has faults. This reel lacks an anti-reverse to turn the mechanism on and off, which would be nice to ensure a better cast and retrieve for the angler. The only other negative is the lack of an additional spool. These two drawbacks are important but not anything you cannot overlook when you weigh the good against the bad.


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    Casting performance
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    Waterproof digital structure


  • No switch for anti-reverse
  • No additional spool


There are a few key factors that should be used as guidelines going into this very serious angler decision. Here are the ones that we feel are the most important.


Style can meet a lot of things but when we are talking about it, we mean the type of reel. There are three main types, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The 3 styles are:


The easiest for beginners to use, you often see this style on the kiddie rigs in the store. It is a closed unit with all the internal workings covered by the housing. Though it is easy to use, you must suffer from less accuracy and distance.


This style is hard to learn and therefore popular among the more seasoned anglers. The spool control is an important skill with this reel — good for heavy line and lure fishing and is perhaps the most precise of the reel styles.


Popularity is this reel’s middle name. Middle of the road this reel has an open-faced design and is more precise than the spincast but less so than its cousin the baitcaster.

Comfort Level

The last thing anyone wants to do is get to their fishing spot and have to deal with an uncomfortable reel all day. That takes the fun out of the whole thing, so when looking for the best fishing reel for yourself, make sure it is a comfortable one. This means a comfortable weight, good for whichever hand you favor to cast with and fits good on your rod. This is easier when you are physically shopping, but even online you can get a feel — just check out some of the reviews.

Drag System

Look for the drag pressure when beginning your hunt for that perfect reel. For the most part, a 10-pound drag should be good for most of those fish you are looking to catch. If you are looking to catch larger fish, there are some reels that go up to 20 pounds. You want a smooth cast and the only way to ensure that is by making sure your drag pressure matches your need. After all, no one wants a cast that includes a choppy line pull. So, look for a reel with a good quality drag pressure and you won’t be sorry.


Durability! That is a key factor in all equipment, gear or tools that you look to add to your collection. Why would a reel be any different? The material that your reel is constructed of can be the determining factor in this durability. Outdoor activities can be rough on you and your equipment so that reel needs to be tough like you, and being as light as possible doesn’t hurt as well. The dream team is a durable yet lightweight material. Reels today are constructed with one of the following:

  • Plastic
  • Graphite
  • Metal
  • Co-polymer

Each of these materials comes with its own pluses and minuses. If you are dealing with a limited budget or buying a reel for a child, plastic may be your best bet, whereas if you are a saltwater fisherman, maybe you need to investigate a reel constructed with graphite or co-polymer. No matter what you are looking for, the material should be a factor in selecting the best fishing reel for you.


The other factors will do you no good if the internal workings of your reel fail you. The bearings which reduce the friction in the gearbox could be the most important of all these considerations. The more bearings the better; just make sure that they are good quality. Not only will good bearings mean a more efficient piece of gear, but also could expand the life cycle of the reel itself. The system that the industry uses is a scale from 1 -9 with 1 being the lowest performing bearings.


Let’s also tackle some of those most commonly asked questions.

How to string a fishing reel

Stringing a fishing reel is sometimes called spooling the reel. Perhaps one of the most important parts of fishing because if done wrong you may experience some difficulties later. Though each model may have their own unique quirks, the basic principle is the same. Here are the steps that you need to take to spool your reel:

  1. The bail needs to be opened.
  2. Wrap the line around the reel. You should end up with two ends of the line.
  3. Tie the two ends of the line with a simple knot.
  4. Then tie another knot with the combined piece.
  5. Take a knife or scissors and cut the excess line. (About a quarter of an inch from the reel.)
  6. Shut the bail
  7. Make sure that you hold the line a good distance from the reel like a foot or so.
  8. Then spin the reel until the appropriate amount of line in on the reel for your needs. This depends on the style of reel.

For the more visual learners here is a video that may help you out:

How to line a fishing reel

Now that you have the line spooled on your reel, how do you line a fishing reel? This part of the process is less complicated. Here are the steps you need to take to finish the final set up of your rod:

  1. Take the end of the fishing line in your hand.
  2. Release the bail with your free hand.
  3. Guide the line through the rod guides

Here is a great video that will show you the steps in a clear way in case you need a visual:

How does a fishing reel work?

The basic reel works through the spool system that is played with the line. That line then fed through the eyes on your rod and then whatever bait you are using is attached to the end of that line. After this, the anger will place their thumb on the line to cast.

What size reel for freshwater fishing?

This is easy and is a direct correlation with the weight of the line you chose to use. The lighter the line, the smaller the reel that is needed.

What is a fishing reel?

The reel is the conical or cylindrical apparatus attached to a rod that allows the stowing and casting of the fishing line.


With this list of the best fishing reels of 2019 hopefully, your decision process has been made just that hair easier. We have given you a detailed breakdown of some of the best fishing reels on the market in 2019, making sure you knew what some key factors to consider are and even took a stab at some of those FAQs. With all this information the daunting selection of the perfect reel for you should be like shooting fish in the barrel.

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